Sir Martin Broughton has revealed he spoke to investors over a potential Liverpool deal.
Sir Martin Broughton has revealed he spoke to members of a consortium of billionaires about potentially investing in Liverpool.
But the former British Airways chairman admits London is generally viewed as a more viable option to those looking to invest in Premier League clubs, despite Reds owners Fenway Sports Group open to offers for either a partial or full sale at Anfield.
Last year, Broughton, whose brief stint as Liverpool chairman in 2010 helped lead to the removal of Tom Hicks and George Gillett as owners, was spearheading a consortium that was in the running to buy Chelsea before it was purchased by the Todd Boehly-led Clearlake Capital group.
Back in November, it was revealed that FSG, who have been Liverpool’s owners since October 2010, are willing to listen to what is on offer and have instructed two major US banks in Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to see what offers are potentially on the table, having produced a sales presentation for serious interested parties.
When Broughton, who was back at Anfield on Monday night to watch Liverpool defeat Everton 2-0, was aiming to acquire Chelsea last summer he was doing so alongside a consortia featuring former London 2012 Olympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe and the US sports investment firm Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (HBSE), owner of sports teams such as the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, whose co-founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer both hold an 18 per cent stake each in Crystal Palace.
The ECHO attended the Sportico Invest in Sports conference in New York in October, where Blitzer was quizzed on his role in the Chelsea bid with Broughton and whether or not it was something that he would pursue again in the future, the 53-year-old highlighting Chelsea as “one of a handful of clubs on a global basis”, with the duo “comfortable” with bidding on the Stamford Bridge club at the time.
HBSE have been linked as an interested party in Liverpool as well as Manchester United, with sources in the US saying that the New Jersey-based firm were assessing their options, although any interest in either would almost certainly be with the view of a minority stake.
And Broughton admits he did float the idea about investing in Liverpool to a consortium in an exclusive chat with the ECHO as part of the release of his new book ‘Whenever I Hear That Song’, although Harris and Blitzer were not spoken to when he sought to drum up interest in the Reds.
Broughton said: “I didn’t speak to Josh Harris and David Blitzer, as they have gone back to Crystal Palace, but I did speak to the other people in our consortium and Chelsea I spoke to, in case there was an interest in becoming a co-investor, not to acquire, but to become a co-investor.
“But they are already foreign billionaires with a pad in Knightsbridge or Chelsea or Kensington and they came to London fairly regularly and when they came to London it was to watch Chelsea.
“So they are all Chelsea fans and not in the 68-year way going down there to watch them in the way I am but that is their team and they enjoy going down there. They were attracted by the idea of investing in a football team and Chelsea specifically.
“When I approached them about Liverpool – and I didn’t approach them about Manchester United, I would never approach them about Manchester United – but the result would have been the same. [They would say] ‘well I’ve got a pad in London.’ So that’s not the type of person that is going to come in really at Liverpool.
“So I wasn’t keen enough to go out and search for investors, new investors again. I think if anybody wanted my assistance in it, I would be willing to consider it but not actively.
“[FSG operating in the United States] hasn’t harmed Liverpool. Tom Werner lives in LA, John Henry lives in Florida and Boston. They don’t come to every match but they pitch up at certain matches and they are actively involved. Mike Gordon was over here on a more full-time basis in the past. You can make it work. Maybe [they bought Liverpool] because John didn’t have a pad in London!”
As part of the Boston-based group’s efforts to assess the market, Gordon, who was previously the most hands-on of the ownership group at Anfield has stepped away from day-to-day duties on Merseyside to see what offers may be viable for FSG going forward.
“I don’t know Mike particularly well,” Broughton added. “He wasn’t in the team that negotiated the purchase. He became an investor in New England Sports Ventures but there was a smaller team that was negotiating for Liverpool.
“From the outset, I didn’t know him but he came in at a later stage. I met him on a few occasions and I don’t know him well but everything I hear is top class. I have no reason to think otherwise and he has done a great job.
“Quite early on, he was the one who was keen to put himself forward at Fenway as the one who could get actively involved and become a serious investor in Liverpool. And FSG have taken in other investors into their operations, so in some ways, they have kind of – Tom and John – created and realised some of their value by bringing other people into FSG level rather than Liverpool level and you know, some of those guys might come forward with a more direct investment in Liverpool at some stage.”
Also part of Broughton’s consortium for Chelsea, as well as HBSE and Lord Coe, was Indian entrepreneur and owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, Vivek Ranadive, as well as the person that recommended Mr Broughton for the role that he held at Anfield, Wall Street financier Michael Klein, a man well known to FSG due to his work on their acquisition of the Reds in 2010.
HBSE are understood to retain an interest in investment opportunities with both Liverpool and Manchester United, and they also have a relationship with institutional investors Arctos Sports Partners, a private equity firm that has stakes in multiple US sports teams as well as being a partner of Liverpool owners FSG since 2021.
The ECHO has been informed by sources close to the FSG sale process in the US that the Reds owners would like to bring on board a partner that could potentially accrete their interest into a full shareholding over time.